Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Director:  Matt Reeves
Writers: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa
Stars:  Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis, Kirk Acevedo

Running Time:  130 mins.

The Planet of the Apes series is probably the best of all franchises to have been reimagined or turned into prequels then sequels because it benefits so much from today’s technological advances related to CGI – computer generated imagery.  The apes in all their glorious forms and performing all sorts of actions are so beautifully presented.  At the same time, the storytelling has been generally logical and sufficiently detailed to make you believe in the outcome, that apes will ultimately get the better of us weaker, stupid humans

Here it’s ten years after the simian virus has wiped out much of humanity and the people and apes who have survived are living in separate camps in Northern California.  The humans control the city that was once San Francisco and, deep in the forests, different species of apes have banded together to form a community of their own.  

With just a couple weeks of electrical power at their disposal the humans headed up by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) decide their only recourse is to fix the long dormant hydro-electric dam.  And when his crew travel deep into the forest to access the dam, they are surprised to find a band of apes and even more surprised that one of them named Caesar (Andy Serkis reprising his role) speaks.  And when he does, it’s to effectively order the humans never to return to ape territory.

The crew reports back to Dreyfus who gets all ticked off that the apes are preventing humans from accessing the dam which is needed for their comfort and survival.   So he gives his second-in-command Malcolm (Jason Clarke) a few days to negotiate before he declares war on the apes.  

The remainder of the film juggles mistrust and miscommunication on both sides.  Some humans are good, some are bad and so it is with apes.  It leaves us with the uneasy feeling that “getting along” is not something humans do easily or willingly and as far as the apes are concerned some are just not willing or able to forget the hideous experimentation that was done on them by elitist humans who have no respect for other creatures sharing our world. 

Lotta says it’s a fun movie with good action sequences.  Whether you buy into horse-back riding, machine gun toting apes is another matter.  The motion capture performances by actors who play the apes are terrific, among them Toby Kebbell as Kobe, Caesar’s nemesis, Nick Thurston as Caesar’s son Blue Eyes, Terry Notary as Rocket, Judy Greer as Cornelia (Caesar’s wife) and Karin Konoval as the big organutan treacher Maurice.